Many of the speaker presentations and conversations in casual groups and at the "email and social" roundtable I hosted echoed those I've heard attending 10 of Media Post's Email Insider Summits.
This isn't too surprising. After all, email is the original social network, way before Facebook left college and Twitter was what birds did in trees.
In fact, I thought the most interesting session of the conference was the last one, a panel discussion called "Social and Email: Can These Platforms Get Along?"
Moderated by Alex Williams of Trendline Interactive, the panel included fellow Email Insider columnists David Baker and Kara Trivunovic along with Angela Sanchez from Universal Music and Mark Schmulen (Constant Contact). It had the best discussion on topics such as social CRM and ways these channels support each other.
Here are a few of my observations from the conference and in general:
1. Email industry crossover: Several attendees reflected a trend I've witnessed elsewhere: people who have worked in email marketing and then either added social media responsibilities or moved on to full-time social media or social CRM roles.
The knowledge transfer is pretty easy to see. These people understand that email is all about knowing customer behavior, creating engaging messages, conversion and measurement, and they're applying what they've learned to social media.
This is a positive trend for both email marketing and social media efforts. These email marketing "graduates" provide advancement opportunities for younger marketers. They know how to turn subscriber engagement into revenue and are primed to take advantage of the power of email-social integration.
2. Email as social utility: The "Social and Email" panel and my roundtable touched on several ways email and social support each other, including:
• Email opt-in forms on Facebook brand pages
• Email share-to-social
• Using email to promote social Likes and followers
• Welcoming and educating social fans on what to expect in their social channels via email
• Using email to convert social fans who have opted in via social channels
• Email as a dynamic content platform that pulls in social and user-generated content such as product reviews, Likes, Tweets, photos and videos, and blog comments.
3. Social's impact on email creative: I asked panel members how social media has affected email marketing from a creative and content perspective. They echoed many of the points I've been writing about:
• It has driven a more humanized approach to content by reflecting both the company's personality and the customer's voice.
• As in social, employees are often the face of email content.
• Content that pops like a 140-character Tweet is increasingly replacing the traditional lengthier direct marketing style.
• The content itself is increasingly neither marketer- nor company-centric. Rather, customer content does the selling for you.
4. Social CRM and channel optimization: The Holy Grail for many digital marketers is communicating one on one with customers in the channels they're more likely to respond in as demonstrated by both channel preferences and behavior.
With this social CRM dream, you could build customer profiles that recognize which customers respond to promotional offers via his/her Twitter or Facebook account but open and act on transactional messages sent via email. You could identify influential customers who Tweet or Like your brand or products.
This takes a tight integration of ecommerce, offline, social, email, direct and mobile data and technology that can make sense of unstructured social data. The technology for this is not too far over the horizon, but we'll probably have to wait a bit before the road to precision marketing like this becomes commonplace.
One aspect of this integration is happening right now, however, on Web sites that allow visitors to register by logging in through their favorite social networks.
Signing in via social networks, which gives marketers data the users have made public without having to fill out forms, can increase form conversion rates by 10% to 50% according to Janrain, provider of social login and sharing technology.
What do you think? Are social and email heading toward closer integration? Have email and social affected each other, or are they still securely siloed?
Until next time, take it up a notch!